Will-O'-The Wisp: Deadly Fairy Lights

By | August 5, 2019

test article image
Detail from an engraving by Josiah Wood Whymper from 'Phenomena of Nature', published in London in 1849 for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. In marshy and boggy places, a light is sometimes seen to hover over the ground by night. Source: (ss

For thousands of years, people all over the world, but particularly in the British Isles, have reported seeing ghostly lights in the night forest and fields. It wasn't just the good British ale: The lights were real ... sort of. They looked just like a flame from a lantern, so nighttime travelers were often lured off their path to go see if the other person needed help. But that's when the trouble would start. The Will-o'-the-wisp, as the strange lights were called, were deceitful and dangerous. Let's see how.

test article image
Will-o'-the-wisp was also called Ignis fatuus foolish fire--in Latin. Source: (paranormal-encounters.com)

Foolish Fire

The Will-o'-the-wisp were sometimes called "ignis fatuus," a Latin phrase meaning "foolish fire." That's because the fire was not real, only an illusion. The Will-o'-the-wisp could appear as a flickering flame in the moors or wooded areas or as a floating ball of blue-green light near swamps, bogs, or marshes. Some accounts of Will-o'-the-wish sightings claim the light was so bright that it caused people to squint. Other times, the lights were said to be so dim that they could barely be seen. This was, of course, before glasses were invented, so take such accounts with a grain of salt.